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Cardinals claim top playoff seed in National League

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Mike Matheny's Cardinals will enter the playoffs as the team to beat in the NL. (USATSI)
Mike Matheny's Cardinals will enter the playoffs as the team to beat in the NL. (USATSI)

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The Cardinals on Sunday topped the Cubs at home by a tally of 4-0 and in doing so locked up top seed throughout the National League bracket. The Braves will be the two seed.

For the Cardinals that, of course, means home-field advantage throughout the NL side, but arguably more important is that they get to avoid the Dodgers in the NLDS.

To be sure, there's no such thing as an easy draw in the MLB postseason, but the Dodgers -- what with Clayton Kershaw fronting a strong rotation, a (relatively) healthy Matt Kemp and their 45-22 record since the break -- would seem to be especially imposing by first-round standards. Instead, the Cardinals will renew intra-divisional hostilities with the Reds or Pirates, whichever one wins the NL wild-card game in Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals end the regular season with a 97-65 mark, which is their best record since 2005.

Last season, the Cardinals advanced to the NLCS but blew a 3-1 series lead to the eventual-champion Giants.

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